Masterminds - 1/2*

It is time to put an end to the Die Hard genre. After the masterful original Die Hard, we have had to suffer through countless carbon copies. We’ve seen Die Hard on a Boat, on a Plane, on a Train. We’ve suffered through a Die Hard in a sporting arena, and in an amusement park. Now, the clones have hit an all time low with the Die-Hard-in-a-School, Masterminds.

Ozzie (Vincent Kartheiser) is a genius troublemaker, who, when he’s not blowing up the school chemistry lab, is busy pirating the latest software games (in a particularly unintentionally humorous sequence, a game company has a graphically-intense, ala Quake, backdoor interface into their computer system, which, besides being horrendously impractical, is probably better than the game they’re developing inside.)

After being threatened by his father (Matt Craven) with military school (how original!), Ozzie promises to go straight. However, no sooner than he drops his little sister (Katie Stuart) off at her rich-kid boarding school does he revert to his old ways. However, he finds himself trapped on the campus when Rafe Bentley (Patrick Stewart), the school’s new security advisor, leads an international team of terrorists to take the school hostage.

Of course, this film is aimed at a younger audience than the traditional Die Hard clone, so the terrorists shoot people with sleeping darts, and only switch to live ammo when they are destroying property or vacant vehicles. (Heck, there are even land mines that wait until everyone is clear before exploding in a plume of dirt). But all the other Die Hard trappings are there: crawling through the air ducts, communicating to a close friend via the world’s most powerful walkie talkie, and a villain who knows police procedures better than the police do. Unfortunately, they’re not done very well.

Well, nothing in the film is. The first problem is with Ozzie. He’s such an annoying brat that you instantly start rooting for the bad guys. Unfortunately, they’re all bumbling buffoons, incapable of capturing a legless cat, so there’s no hope remaining. Beside Mr. Bentley, the bad guys are all interchangable pawns, present only to provide an obstacle. And Patrick Stewart isn’t terribly interesting as Bentley, though he’s probably the best thing in the film.

The plotting is overly simplistic and inane. There’s only one plot twist that even remotely takes you by surprise, and that one has no ramifications at all on the plot. It’s simply there to masquerade the foul stench emminating from this movie. The only worthwhile moments here were stolen from better films, and there are very few worthwhile moments.

I’m not sure who the film’s target audience is. I’m guessing little kids and hermits who don’t know better. There are much better films they could choose.

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